Winning American Idol comes with a lot of perks, but not a ton of cash.
True, it is a springboard to instant name recognition and fame but the winners and runners-up aren’t necessarily raking in the big bucks, according to contracts obtained by TMZ. All three Idol finalists — Casey James, Crystal Bowersox or Lee DeWyze — could walk away from this competition with a six-figure record deal… but it will be a far cry from the millions we imagined they’d rake in.
According to the contracts, the Idol winner gets $175,000 when they start recording their first album and another $175,000 when they deliver that album. Here’s the cash breakdown for all subsequent albums (don’t forget, when you sign with Idol, they own you AND your music for the first 6 albums!)
Second Album: $275,000 – $550,000
Third Album: $325,000 – $650,000
Fourth Album: $375,000 – $750,000
Fifth Album: $450,000 – $900,000
Sixth Album: $500,000 – $1 million
The runner-up also gets $150,000 upon starting their album, and another $150,000 upon delivery. Just like the winner, the runner-up is compensated on a sliding scale for all subsequent albums. As for the third place winner? Well, they’re usually lucky just to get signed and avoid a fate of singing at wing bowls and graduation parties.